Duty to king and country has shaped Raik's life since birth, but to protect them, she must perform a ritual that betrays all she holds sacred.
The Vhalgenn is a warrior, bedmate, soulmate, companion, and friend. Trusted by the king. Hated by the queen. To save the newborn prince, the Vhalgenn will risk her position, her honor, and death itself to honor the Old Ways. But when she takes the newborn prince to the queen's homeland for a ritual blessing, she discovers a betrayal so deep the kingdom -- and her heart -- might never recover.
This fantasy features a strong heroine, and was originally part of the 2008 EPIC eBook Award Finalist anthology A Time To... Volume 1 - The Best of The Lorelei Signal, from Wolfsinger Publications, which is now out of print. The strong female heroine possesses nobility, honor, and courage, and is a role model for women. The book is dedicated to all women warriors, whatever their battle, and is written by a female veteran.
By Kayelle Allen
In this scene from The Last Vhalgenn, the heroine, Raik, is alone with King Orix. They grew up together, but his new queen barred Raik from the palace. Raik is back to deliver news of a battle and while delighted to be with Orix, is nervous about his queen discovering them.
I followed Orix to the matching chairs where we used to sit in the evenings. The fire crackled and popped. Homesickness gnawed my heart, especially when the faithful old servant, Cyrus, greeted me. His unfeigned affection and fatherly embrace brought tears to my eyes. He set out a meal of bread, cheese, and wine and served me first, against all custom.
Orix watched, amusement touching his mouth and eyes. Before he left, Cyrus reminded me twice to call if I needed anything. Orix stood and went to the fire, hands held out to the flames.
"There's enough for four people." I broke off a hunk of crusty black bread. "Come share."
He returned, nibbling while I gulped, but said little. At last, hunger satisfied and body clean, I leaned back in the chair and lifted a goblet, watching the fire through the deep red wine.
"I'm sorry, Orix. You know. About Dahr. I didn't mean to hurt. You mean more to me than anyone alive."
He reached across and took my hand; interlaced his fingers, and then folded his arms and stared into the fire.
"I need her Raik. As much as I needed you."
Needed? I choked back words that anguish hurried to mind. I was as much his chattel as any of his horses. If one person could own another, then I was his, given to him at birth. Why should it hurt if he treated me as such?
"She's in danger of losing the baby."
"Again?" There had been a miscarriage four months after their marriage. "What's wrong this time?" I poured more wine.
"Some woman thing. Her doctors fuss around her bed all day. It's been weeks and she still has to stay on her back. I can't even see her. All her doctors are from Kellindahr. I don't think she trusts ours."
"This child is crucial, Orix. You need an heir to both lands. If it helps for her to have her own people around her, so much the better."
"Aye." He rambled on about a rallying point and the Kellindahrii people's love for their queen, while I mused over how much time would be lost begetting another heir. It struck me that if Dahr was abed she hadn't met Orix's needs. My throat tightened when I thought of him sleeping alone. I dared not look at the over-sized bed we'd so often shared. Nor did I look straight at him, afraid my rampant feelings would show. There was a war to finish. I'd been foolish to bring the dispatch. Being this close to him...
I flung myself out of the chair and stalked, stiff legged and sore, over to the fireplace and leaned my head against the mantle.
Let him go! He's the king. You're a soldier. He'll never be yours. Don't lose your heart over him. Don't do it. Not again.
"I'm sorry." Orix came up behind me. "You're exhausted and here I am prating about my needs." He pulled my hand to his mouth and pressed the palm against his lips.
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Here's a giveaway for everyone, an illustrated eBook called Behind the Scenes with The Last Vhalgenn. This free eBook is an inside look at the characters and setting in the story. When you click the link, this will either offer you a download, or open in a new window, depending on your settings. To read it, you need Adobe Reader, available free.
About the Author
Kayelle Allen is a multi-published, award-winning Science Fiction Romance author of unstoppable heroes, uncompromising love, and unforgettable passion.
Unstoppable Heroes Blog http://kayelleallen.com/blog